Walking and soccer don’t seem to go together considering the average game of high speed and defiant tackles.
But this new version of the popular game has been on the road for just over a decade, with games taking place across Scotland every week.
Aberdeen is no different, and woe to anyone who confuses the ease of walking with a lack of skill.
As the name suggests, the game is played at walking pace and players are not allowed to run under any circumstances.
Dust off your power walking because you can go as fast as you like.
However, one foot must always be in contact with the ground.
What does this mean for tackles? Crack on but no contact is allowed.
You may not be running around, but there are still tremendous health benefits from walking soccer – both physically and mentally.
It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke while improving blood pressure, and regular gaming may even reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
As National Fitness Day approaches on September 21st, which aims to celebrate what fitness means to people and break down barriers that prevent people from being active, we caught up with retired butcher Davie Smith.
The 58-year-old, who lives in the Stockethill area of Aberdeen, has lost weight and improved his mental well-being through walking football.
That’s all the more impressive given that Davie thought his days on the pitch were over.
love of the game
“I used to play football after school and Sunday Welfare Football,” said Davie.
“Actually, all my time, until I was about 35.
“Injuries intervened, I never thought that 25 years later I would be back on this pitch.
“One of the guys I play with now, well we found out we played together 40 years ago.
“To be back in the same spot for both of us is absolutely brilliant.”
Go to feel good
Davie previously played walking football with some friends but the group sadly broke up.
Luckily, he was approached by Street Soccer Scotland, which provides free football training and personal development opportunities to socially disadvantaged groups across Scotland.
“I’ve been playing walking football for over a year and the quality is really amazing,” said Davie.
“The welcome when I first came was second to none.
“I immediately felt part of the team; Some of the people in our group are amazing.
“They all have their own challenges, be it mental health or some players need extra support, but to have the chance to play together is absolutely brilliant.
“Seeing the joy on other people’s faces makes my week.
“Being able to get out of the house, finding a bit of routine makes a big difference.
“With the new players you notice how quickly it boosts them.
“I play walking football at Goals in Aberdeen on Wednesday and Friday and I also play at Strikers which is a bit more competitive.
“I wouldn’t be able to play at this level at all if I didn’t have Walking Football with Street Soccer Scotland.
“I lost a stone and a half in weight, which of course is good for my health.
“For me, it’s the love of the game. I support Aberdeen and go to the games when I can.”
Davie has also learned many new skills from walking in football, not the least of which is how to adapt to the change of tempo.
Serious skill required
“When you pass the ball, it’s easy to forget that the player you’re passing to can’t run,” he said.
“You must reduce the weight of your passport.
“If you pass too far in front of them, chances are the opposing team will get the ball instead.”
Getting involved has also done wonders for Davies’ mental health, and his wife Dawn is incredibly supportive.
“We’ve been together for 40 years; We met at a nightclub when I was 18 and she was 17,” Davie said.
“Dawn has three different lung conditions and has been shielded for the better part of six months.
“So for me it’s great to get out.
“It’s so good to get the chance to feel a part of something.
“Having the feeling of having a ‘football family’ is very enriching.”
There’s also a wonderful dose of nostalgia for Davie and a chance to catch up with old friends.
“It’s about meeting someone I used to know and we’ll reminisce together,” he said.
“Remember, when you ran that team etc. it all comes back to you.
“I’m a competitive person, but I enjoy football more on foot.
“Of course, some people still love to win, but it’s all in good banter.”
Visit www.streetsoccerscotland.org for more information
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[Walk your way to wellbeing with new take on football]